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Synergistic action of pygeum and nettle root extracts in prostate disease

One of the theories about the cause of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) suggests that the testosterone metabolite dihydrotestosterone causes or furthers the progression of prostatic enlargement. This thinking is supported by the fact that men deficient in dihydrotestosterone do not experience prostatic growth, and that treatment with prescription drugs which inhibit the production of dihydrotestosterone can decrease prostatic growth. An increase in the ratio of estrogen to testosterone in elderly men indicates that estrogen may also be involved in the development of BPH.

In this study, Swiss researchers R. Hartmann et al. demonstrate that extracts of pygeum (Pygeum africanum Kalkman, Rosaceae) and nettle root (Urtica dioica L., Urticaceae) partially blocked the action of two enzymes involved in the body's production of dihydrotestosterone and estrogen. The in vitro (laboratory) study showed that both pygeum and nettle root extracts were effective in inhibiting these two enzymes (5alpha-reductase and aromatase) and that a combination of the two plant extracts was significantly more effective than either extract individually in blocking aromatase activity.

Nettle root extract was effective only at high concentrations, while pygeum extract showed "a much higher efficacy" at lower doses. The combination of the two extracts (Prostatonin®) was as effective as pygeum against 5 a-reductase and significantly more effective than either against aromatase. This study supports the use of combinations of these two ingredients in the treatment of BPH. This is especially important because pygeum bark is both expensive and limited in supply, while nettle roots are easily produced on a large scale.

-- Rob McCaleb, HRF

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[Hartmann, R.W., Mark, M., and Soldati, F. 1996. Inhibition of 5 alpha-reductase and aromatase by PHL-00801 (Prostatonin®), a combination of PY 102 (Pygeum africanum) and UR 102 (Uritca dioica) extracts. Phytomedicine 3(2):121-128.]

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